The big event of the week was, I think, Poroshenko's speech to what I call the Imperial Senate (aka Joint Session of Congress). I have made the full transcript available here and here. I don't think that it is worth carefully parsing this text, so I will just mention the few elements which are absolutely obvious to me:
1) This text was written by a US Neocon. It even included such typical US-propaganda gimmicks as the "personal story" to give a human touch and moment carefully crafted to generate applause. So no only what the author of this rant American, but he/she was for sure a diehard Neocon.
2) This text was a lame attempt at copying Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech, except that Poroshenko is no Churchill, Putin no Stalin and Novorussia no Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the message was clear: Russia represents a planetary threat to freedom, democracy, liberty, human right, free speech, etc. In fact, according to Poroshenko the choice is not between two civilizations but between civilization and barbaric darkness.
3) The US deep state is by now clearly aware of the immense challenge presented to it by Putin's "Eurasian Sovereignist" Russia and the movement it leads (BRICS+SCO+etc.). The fact that it has to use such absolutely over the top rhetoric is a clear sign of fear and the Neocons are now freaking out. The danger for them is becoming very real (more about that below).
4) More than anything else, this speech proved to me that the only viable goal for Russia is regime change in Kiev. This is a message I will hammer in over and over again - regime change in Kiev is a vital, arguable existential, priority for Russia.
5) Far from being any kind of patriots or nationalists, the Ukie "nationalists" are subservient puppets of the West, willing to service AngloZionist interests with less shame then a old prostitute services her clients. For all the "Glory to the Ukraine, to the Heroes Glory!" slogans, the Ukies are the cheapest prostitutes on the planet with no self-respect whatsoever.
The entire speech had a Disney-like feel to it: on one side, the forces of Light, lead by the USA in white shining armor and on the other, the forces of Darkness, lead by Russia crawling out of the Asian steppes like Lovecraft's Chtuhlu. Infantile to the extreme, the purpose of the speech was to induce a planetary war against Russia and her allies or, at the very least, to contain that 21st century Mordor. Poroshenko went as far as referring to now completely disproved lies (such as Russia invading Georgia in 2008) and hinting that Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria. could/would be next. Clearly the main can lie with an ease which any used car salesman would envy.
Then there is the issue of the standing ovations. Less than Obama and less than Netanyahu, but still a lot (12 I think). The Imperial Senators appeared to stand longer and clap harder each time Poroshenko drifted off into some kind of crazy nonsense. A scary sight, really.
Now we all know who runs the US Congress (AIPAC) so what this is, really, is a declaration of war by AIPAC and the Zionist faction of the AngloZionist Empire. The Anglos are far less enthusiastic as shown by Obama's refusal to send weapons to the Ukies. Just like in 2008 and that other lunatic - Saakashvili - I get the feeling that there might be a lot of behind the scenes Neocon "parallel diplomacy" going on. If not, why would Obama's bosses tell Poroshenko to ask for weapons they don't want to give him in the first place? My guess is that there is a lot of reluctance in the Pentagon and possibly in the intelligence community to get the USA fully committed behind a regime which might not be around in a few months.
Whatever may be the case, Poroshenko's speech felt like an infantile but nasty declaration of war. Clearly, there are those who are very concerned that peace might break out
On the "peace front" a number of interesting things happened. First, on September 14th sixteen business representatives from the USA, Russia, Germany and the Ukraine met for a private meeting with the Chairmen of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab. In attendance were some very big player including the hyper-notorious Anatolii Chubais (for a complete list or participants, see here). They adopted the following document:
(You can also download the document from here.) The publication of this document resulted in something as predictable as it was amazing. The "Putin is selling out Novorussia" choir immediately denounced this document as a total betrayal of Novorussia and a victory for the oligarchs. I said that this was a predictable reaction because by now it is pretty clear that these folks will denounce any and all negotiated documents (Agreement, Memoranda, Treaty or any other type) as a "sellout of Novorussia", "victory for the oligarchs" and "capitulation by Putin". Still, what was absolutely amazing to me that apparently they seem to notice #6:
Guarantee the security and sovereignty of Ukraine by the international community. Recognize the supremacy of international law above national interests. Recognize the right of self-determination but encourage to consider a policy of military non-alignment for Ukraine, comparable to the status of other European countries (i.e. Finland, Sweden, Switzerland). Amazingly, but the nay-sayers managed to completely miss the fact that 1) Ukie laws which contravene the EU Convention on Human Rights (including Protocol 12 on minority rights) and the UN Charter (whose Article 1 and others specifically uphold the right of self-determination) could be overruled 2) that the Ukies were told to recognize the right of self-determination (not just federation, but open-ended self determination) and 3) that the Ukies were told that they will have to remain neutral and non-aligned.And that, coming form Chubais & Co!
Now, I understand that the Ukies broke every single document they signed so far, and this one will be no exception. But what is crucial here is that the message from "top finance" is not Poroshenko's hysterical call to arms before the Imperial Senate, but "no crazy laws, self-determination, no NATO". This is a HUGE victory for Russia who sees a Ukrainian membership in NATO as a major threat. Conversely, this WEF Initiative is a nightmare come true for the Neocons as it finalizes, if it is applied of course, the non-NATO status for the Ukraine.
True, this document speaks of a unitary Ukrainian state (apparently unless and until the right of self-determination trumps that) and it is full with well-meaning generalities. But point #6 is absolutely amazing coming, as it does, from the trans-national plutocrats which signed it. And yes, will Chubais' friend recommend an non-block status for the Ukraine, the Ukie Rada is abrogating its nonaligned while Timoshenko demands and entry into NATO.
Finally, keep in mind that this is an "initiative" which does not commit the Ukraine or Russia to anything. At most, this is a declaration of desirable principles, a basis for negotiation if you want.
The other big event of the week is signing of the Minsk Memorandum. Here is the full text:
Unlike the vague and, frankly, un-implementable Minsk cease-fire agreement, this Memorandum provides some perfect reasonable standards by which to measure compliance by both parties. Some points are politically correct nonsense (#9) but most of this text can be summarized as following: a "freezing" of the conflict along the line of contact. Is that good or bad?
Depends whom you ask.
Strelkov immediately denounced that Memorandum in the strongest possible terms. According to Strelkov, this is a victory for the "betrayal" camp lead by Surkov who has deceived Putin and is now pushing him into a Milosevic-type of scenario. In contrast, Zakharchenko, obviously, full backs the plan. So let's look a bit closer to this Memorandum.
For one thing, and that is important, it contains exactly zero political provisions. None. So the first rather obvious point that I would like to make is that this plan is very limited in scope: all it does is provide the basis for a mechanism to achieve a more or less verifiable ceasefire. Period. So if the Minks Ceasefire Agreement was list of vague and unenforceable (I would even argue undefined) general political statements, this document is the extreme opposite: a purely technical tool which really codifies the current situation on the ground.
So what is the political context in which this ceasefire will have to be observed? What is the point of the ceasefire?
Well, again, that depends whom you ask.
According to Poroshenko and other Ukrainian officials it is to give time to the Junta Repression Forces (JRF) to regroup, reorganize and prepare for a counter-attack. Strelkov would agree. Zakharchenko and Lavrov disagree. While they observe and denounce the Ukie preparations for a possible (likely? inevitable?) counter-attack, their official position is that the Agreement and the Memorandum are now binding documents useful in preparation for a final status negotiations. At this point Zakharchanko speaks of a completely independent Ukraine and Lavrov of a neutral Ukraine respectful of all its citizens.
I suggest we take it step by step.
First, long before we got to this point, we used to have heated debates on this blog about whether time was on the Russia, Novorussian or Ukie side. At the time, most commentators, including myself, were of the opinion that time was most definitely on Russia's side, but the question was if Novorussia could survive long enough. Basically, we wondered if Novorussia could stay alive long enough for Banderastan to collapse, or whether the only way to save Novorussia from a Nazi takeover was an overt Russian military intervention in the Donbass. Some of us even spoke of weeks.
Now, several months later, we see that not only did Novorussia not collapse under a Nazi takeover, but that the Novorussian Armed Forces gave a magnificent thrashing to the JRF and instead of getting encircled in Donetsk and Lugkans, the NAF pushed the JRF all the way out to Mariupol. At the very least, this proves that
1) Those who said that a Russian military intervention was the only way to save Novorussia were wrong: Novorussia survived.
2) Those who said that there was no Russian covert aid or that this aid was insufficient were wrong again: Voentorg is thriving (named after a military store, "voentorg", which literally means "military trade", here refers to the Russian covert aid to Novorussia)
Furthermore, at the time everybody agreed that things could only get worse for Banderastan, especially when the Fall and Winter would begin. As far as I know, there is still nobody predicting a miraculous turn-around in the Ukie economy so we can assume that all that Banderastan did was get so much closer to the inevitable economic and social cliff. And, indeed, the cracks are visible all over, AngloZionist aid or not.
I think that basic logic tells us that time is still on Russia's side and that the Ceasefire Agreement, this time supported by a Memorandum, solves the time problem for Novorussia: with aid from Russia freely flowing in (both over humanitarian aid and covert, "voentorg", aid) Novorussia can now sit tight and wait. The cold season will not only exacerbate the economic-social tensions in Banderastan, it will also make offensive operations much harder.
What about the opportunity costs?
In economics there the notion of "opportunity costs". These are the costs you do not incur directly (you don't have to pay anything), but these are the "costs" resulting from missed opportunities. Income you could have made, but did not.
Is Novorussia incurring such opportunity costs as the result of this peace?
That depends on your hypothesis.
There are those who believe that the NAF could if not make it to Kiev, then at least liberate Mariupol, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and other cities. I agree that Mariupol was about to fall, but only at great risk of envelopment from the north. As for other cities, I personally don't believe that is true. Even Slaviansk is quite out of reach, at least for the time being. Some say that a collapse of the JRF would have left the road open to Kiev. While true in one sense (some units might have used to panic to make it that far), this is a typically civilian idea of warfare. "Getting there" can be easy, of course, but it's *staying* there typically turns into a nightmare. I do not believe that by early September the NAF had the capabilities to breakout much beyond their current areas of deployment and to successfully liberate much more territory.
Furthermore, I do not believe that a purely military solution is achievable, especially not one which has Novorussians "liberating" central or, even less so, western Ukraine. I know that my hatemail will go through the roof, but I will say that I think that freezing the frontline on September 19th is a pretty good deal, especially since that removes the single biggest "distraction" in internal Ukie politics: the so-called "Russian invasion".
There are also those who say that the Russian military could liberate most, or even, all of the Ukraine. I agree. Militarily, this is a no-brainer. But by doing so Russia would provide the Neocons with their ultimate dream: a Cold War v2 for many decades to come. Pragmatically, this would be a disastrous decision. But the moral aspect is even more important here. As far as I am concerned, and setting aside all my sympathy for the people of Novorussia who have fought for their freedom and, I am now convinced of it, will get it, Russia owes the Ukraine absolutely nothing. Not gas, not loans and most definitely not the lives of Russian soldiers. There is no reason I can think of why a young man from Moscow, Tobolsk or Makhachkala has to sacrifice is life liberating Banderastan from the local Nazis. No, sorry, the Ukrainians have to free themselves. It is the hight of hypocrisy to spend decades whining about the Moskals and then expect them to come a liberate you from your own Nazi freaks.
The people of Donetsk and Lugansk have shown that they, like the folks of Crimea or South Ossetia, are truly deserving of Russian help, even if that means that Russian young men should die, as happened in South Ossetia. And I would note here that South Ossetian man are now fighting as volunteers for Novorussia, so the Ossetians have proven beyond any doubt that they were fighting for.
But the folks in the rest of (historical) Novorussia?
Did you hear about the uprising in Mariupol? Right. Neither did I. What about the partisans around Zaporozhie or Chernigov? Same thing. Well, in reality, this is not quite true and not really fair. First, the Nazis are using terror to subdue the locals in these cities and, second, there have been a few actions here and there. But if Strelkov was speaking the truth when he said that most young men in Donetsk and Luganks were quite happy to sip beer and watch the events on their idiot-boxes, this is even much more true of the rest of the Ukraine. Even senior NAF commander admitted that their strength was in the fact that the NAF were liberators, but that the further they would go west, the more they would be seen not as liberators but as occupiers (and, believe me, the propaganda on Ukie TV is nothing short of unimaginable: according the Ukie officials who speak on Ukie TV on a daily basis, Russia is already occupying the Ukraine with, last time I heard, 19 battalion tactical groups!)
Every one is free to have his/her opinion and I cannot prove that I am right simply because hypotheticals are, by definition, unprovable. But my personal belief is that freezing the line of contact on the 19th is reasonable and that the ceasefire benefits everybody more than the regime in Kiev (which is why I expect it to be broken even more than it already is). Furthermore, I submit that these are the fundamental objectives of the key parties to this civil war:
1) Russia: regime change in Kiev (long term goal: years)
2) Novorussia: de-facto full independence from Kiev (short term goal: months)
3) rest of the Ukraine: liberation and full de-Nazificaton (long term goal: years)
The current situation is favorable for #1 and #2.
What about the warning from Strelkov: that this ceasefire agreement is like the one reached in Croatia which gave the Croats time to prepare a counter-attack with their NATO masters and (illegally) occupy the Serbian Krajinas?
For all my sympathy and admiration for Strelkov, I think that he is plain wrong.
For one thing, the Serbs in the Krajinas had their heavy weapons under UN guard and when the Croats and their NATO masters attacked, UNPROFOR was ordered by the US to get the hell out of the way and UPROFOR meekly complied (trust me, I followed that situation minute-by-minute, literally). Furthermore, Milosevic also betrayed the Croatian Serbs and he did not provide support from Bosnia were the Federal Army had several brigades (who later also dumped the Bosnian Serbs). Crimea is protected by the most powerful nuclear arsenal on the planet and by the most powerful single landforce in Eurasia. Unlike the Serbian Krajinas, Crimea is ideal to defend (as history shows). The notion of the Ukies coming from the land, sea or air to occupy Crimea is ludicrous to the extreme. A JRF which got comprehensively defeated by the NAF cannot take on the Russian military. As for the USN, it can show the flag all over the Black Sea, but every USN officer knows that the Black Sea is one big trap from which you don't want to fight Russia.
What about Novorussia then? Could the JRF in theory rearm and successfully attack Donetsk and Lugansk? In theory yes, but in practice as long as Putin is in the Kremlin, Russia will never allow the Ukie to take over these two republics. If they tried, the "voentorg" (which, by the way, has not been stopped by the Agreement or Memorandum) will go through the roof and "volunteers" from Russia would come streaming in. And yes, if left no other choice, and facing a "do it or lose it" situation, the Kremlin will order the Russian military to initiate what will, no doubt, be presented as a "temporary and limited peace-enforcement operation to restore the mutually agree upon line of demarcation of September 19th, 2014" or some equally inane formula which, in practical terms, will simply mean "you got 48 hours to smash the Ukie forces". It will probably take less than 24. Then the Russians will go right back across the border and ask that the OSCE attest to that withdrawal. The West will choke with rage, but it shall be too late. Just like Russia basically disarmed Saakashvili in 3 days of combat, Russia can, and will, disarm Poroshenko, Iarosh, Timoshenko or any other Ukie freak who will try to capture Donetsk or Lugansk.
So is there a conspiracy? A behind-the-scenes secret deal?
Probably not. But I bet you that there is a mutual understanding. The US tells Russia "don't you dare take Kiev" and Russia replies "don't you dare take the Donetsk and Luganks Republics". Neither side commits to anything, but it "just so happens" that neither dare is called. Having said that, both sides also see that short of these red lines the rest is fair game. Hence, the US props up Kiev and Russia props up Novorussia. Sure, the Neocons in the USA are absolutely incensed, and the "hurray-patriots" (there is such a Russian term) in Russia are also furious. The armchair generals on both sides (Liashko, Dugin) offer many "simple" plans on how they would win it all if they were in the White House or the Kremlin. In the meantime, the military commanders in the Pentagon and in the Russian General Staff quietly try to make sure that this war stays local and does not force the "Big Guys" into a real world war.
The main risk is that there is a faction inside the US deep state which correctly identifies the political threat posed by Russia's overt and unapologetic defiance of US policies as an existential threat for the AngloZionist Empire. These guys, Neocons or old Anglo Imperialists, want to play a game of chicken with Russia and they are convincing themselves that Russia must, and will, blink at the last second and back down. The Russian response is very complex one: to give the appearance of backing down without really giving up anything. Like when the Russians had to "cave in" to US threats and disarm Syria form its chemical arsenals. At the time, the Putin is selling out Syria" choir immediately denounced this document as a a betrayal and as a proof that Putin and Obama are, in reality, working hand in hand. Some even continue to clamor today that "if Assad had chemical weapons" the US would never dare to attack him (forgetting that Saddam also had chemical weapons and that this did not help him at all). Now, in hindsight, we know that these nay-sayers (I am being nice and polite here) were wrong, 100% wrong, but at the time their laments and outraged denunciations sounded credible.
To be truly honest, I can understand their feelings. I even wrote on this blog that my biggest fear is that Putin would turn out to be yet another Milosevic. In fact, I had predicted that the Russians would intervene and I was quite surprised and, frankly, appalled when they did not. That was when Donetsk and Lugansk were almost surrounded and their fall looked likely. My brain told met that this would not happen, but I had a knot in my stomach and I could barely think of anything at all besides the tragic events in Novorussia. Yet, this time again, just as with Syria, Putin did "deliver": Russia's covert aid turned the tide and what looked like an imminent collapse of all of Novorussia (especially after the retreat of Strelkov from Slaviansk!) turned into a unbelievable defeat for the Ukie forces. Again, those who seriously believe that this amazing turn of events happened by itself rather then as the direct result of a strategic decision taken in Moscow just don't understand warfare, sorry. Russia's covert aid (weapons, men, intelligence, advisors) made this NAF counter-offensive possible and if Putin wanted to "sell out" Novorussia all he had to do is nothing at all. That would have done the trick just fine. Instead Russia embarked on a remarkable and highly effective to achieve two apparently mutually exclusive results: to deny the AngloZionists the war they so badly wanted and to deny the Ukies the victory they so badly wanted.
No wonder they so passionately hate Putin and Russia :-)
So where do we go from here?
As usual, I will simply admit that I don't know (which is not bad, considering that many folks seem not to even know where we currently are). There are too many variables. Those who tried the MH17 false flag might come up with something just as disgusting and as crazy. So far, on the US side, it look like the Pentagon is successful in preventing the Neocons from seriously committing the US behind Poroshenko. Speaking of Poroshenko, he is much safer in the US than at home. For him, things are about to get much tougher and much uglier. Right now, literally anything can happen in Banderastan, I cannot call that one at all.
Assuming the Ukies don't launch a Fall or Winter offensive (how crazy would that be?! but then they are pretty crazy...), Novorussia will be fine, courtesy of a strong NAF and plenty of Russian aid. Hopefully, the crazy infighting amongst the Novorussian elites will eventually stop. In Russia proper, Strelkov can be the perfect spokesman to 1) hold Putin's feet to the fire and 2) help Putin further gradually suppress the Atlantic Integrationists. Crimea's future looks as bright as can be.
Which leaves Russia under sanctions. Short term - the sanctions are definitely going to hurt Russia. Mid-term, Russia will do just fine as long as these sanctions are used as an opportunity to finally embark on some much needed reforms. There is no risk of a "nationalist Maidan against Putin" (there never was), but the fight against the oligarchs will continue (not only were there rumors, later denied, that Evtushekov had been free, but so far the investigation of the corruption scandal under Serdiukov and his mistress Evgenia Vassilievna has gone nowhere). There are still plenty of pro-Western Atlantic Sovereignists in Moscow and even inside the Kremlin and it will take a lot of time and effort to suppress their constantly subversive and, frankly, sabotaging efforts.
That's it for today folks, I hope that this was useful. Sorry for the long post. All I can say in my defense is that I barely scratched the surface of it all (I good, solid Ukrainian SITREP could easily be 30-50 pages long, though in real life politicians want their reduced to 3-4 paragraphs on one sheet of paper; no wonder they then take stupid decisions!).
Kind regards to all and have a wonderful week-end!
PS: a friend just emailed me to let me know that Russia, China plan sign new 30 year gas deal via 2nd route! So much for the "isolation" of Russia :-)